The Curse of Dregs Hollow, Chapter 6

Great!” Derrick grinned broadly. “When would you be available to go?”

Cally replied, “Unfortunately, I’m not sure yet. Ringmaster Claude doesn’t let us know our schedule until after we collect our wages at the end of the night. I don’t get a lot of days off either. Hmm, this could be a problem! How will I let you know that I’m free?”

“Easy,” Derrick told her. “I’ll wait outside of the gates each night to see when you’re able to go.”

“That makes sense!” Cally responded, and then she remembered, “Oh, I’ll have to find an excuse to run an errand in Bohemma. Reisseck doesn’t let me leave whenever I want. Most of the time, if I have a day off, I end up doing chores all day. What if he doesn’t let me leave?”

Derrick suggested, “Couldn’t you lie and say you have work that day?”

“I tried that once.” Cally explained, “When I came home that night, he asked me for my wages, and when I had none, he was furious! I can’t do that again!”

“What does he do to you when he’s angry?” Derrick’s eyes were full of concern just as they had been that day by the lake.

Cally construed, “He doesn’t beat me, he usually just takes away something that gives me comfort like fresh food or one of the books.”

Derrick perked up at that last part. “Oh, you like to read?”

Cally’s eyes lit up. “I love it! They take me to another world where good always triumphs over evil and dreams actually come true! Whenever things get rough, they give me hope for a better future! Reading what happens to a character almost gives me a sense of purpose, like I have to find out what happens to them next! I couldn’t have made it this far in life if I didn’t have books!”

“Me too!” Derrick gushed, “when I fall on hard times, they renew my spirits and give me the strength to get through it.” Cally gave him an inquisitive look, so he inquired, “What?”

“Oh, it’s a bit silly,” she answered him, “But I always thought royals had it so easy since they’re at the top of the social chain. It never occurred to me that you guys had any stress at all! I mean, the way I read about kings and queens, if you become royalty you win in life. Now it seems a little illogical to believe that. You’re human, so of course you have problems too!”

“Don’t beat yourself up for thinking that,” Derrick assured her. “Most people do. And I suppose it depends on which you’re leader you’re talking to. Some monarchs just lounge around the palace and make people wait on them hand and foot, but for the rest of us, running a kingdom is difficult work! And being wealthy and well known doesn’t guarantee a healthy social life. I myself find it a bit lonely.”

Cally found this claim surprising. “But, you’re so nice and you’re around people all day, so how can you…?” When the words left her mouth, she realized something and amended her original thought, “Actually, you sound like me!”

Derrick agreed, “Exactly! It almost hurts worse this way. In my case, many people want to befriend me for my position, but not a lot of people care about me as a person. It’s very common for people in high positions. It can get depressing not having the opportunity to do things that normal people get to do like that. As a matter of fact, there’s a prince in the book I’m reading going through this. He actually trades places with a commoner just to see what it’s like to live a normal life.”

“I know how that feels!” Cally commented. Then she added, “Your book sounds fascinating!”

Derrick pulled the book out of his pocket and handed it to her. “Here, you can borrow it. When you get to the part I’m at, we can find out what happens in the end together.”

“Okay!” Cally chirped. As she took a hold of the book, she gazed at it like she was holding a piece of treasure. Dregs Hollow didn’t have a library, so she could only read the antique books that Reisseck could add to his collection. She had read them all several times too. Now she had a chance to read a new book, and it thrilled her! “Thank you!”

“You’re very welcome!” he said very cordially. He cleared his throat to prompt himself back to the original topic. “When you get a day off, tell Reisseck you’re working all day, and I’ll give you your full day’s worth of wages.”

“Deal!” Cally affirmed.

Suddenly, they heard footsteps on the carousel, and a moment later, they heard Claude’s voice ask, “Cally? How’s it going in there?”

“I’m almost done!” She swung back up to the structure and began tinkering with it as loud as she could so that Claude could hear it.

Claude reacted, “Good! When you’re finished, I have someone coming for an afternoon shift who can run the ride. The person doing the Flying Horses is leaving soon. After your break, can you go there?”

Cally cringed at that request, but she did her best to convey cheerfulness when she spoke, “No problem!” After he walked out of earshot, Cally asked Derrick, “So, what are you going to do for the rest of the day?”

Derrick pretended to think about it. “Hmm… How will I amuse myself in an amusement park?”

“Okay, wise guy!” Cally laughed, and he, too, chuckled. “I’m going to do a test run of the carousel, and afterwards, we can-.”

“Can I take a ride?” Derrick requested enthusiastically. He dialed his sentiments down a bit and added, “I’d like to see the results of your handiwork.”

“If you’re excited for the ride, you don’t got to make up excuses!” Cally remarked. Derrick sheepishly and non-verbally admitted that he wanted to go on the carousel ride, which made them both titter. “I will need a ticket though.” Derrick looked mildly surprised, so she clarified, “I’ll get in trouble if I give you a free ride.”

“Far enough!” He pulled out a small sack of coins and sifted through them. He handed Cally a gold coin and informed her, “This is the smallest denomination I have.”

“That’s enough for twenty rides.” Cally smiled as she told him, “I think Ringmaster Claude will get mad if I test the ride that many times!”

“Say no more!” Derrick stepped out of the little door, hopped onto the carousel, and surveyed the scene. He saw a small group of kids and yell to them, “Hey, who wants a free ride on the carousel?” The children looked ecstatic at the chance and ran over. He counted them as they entered and noted, “We need a few more.” He saw a few kids who were obviously from Dregs Hollow and invited them, “Would you guys like to ride?” They seemed astonished that he would even ask them. “Yeah, you guys! Come join us!” They entered the ride with a joyful disbelief, and Cally surveyed the scene beaming at Derrick admirably.

At the end of the day, Cally found Derrick outside and sadly revealed, “Sorry, I have to work all day tomorrow.”

“That’s okay!” Derrick pat her shoulder reassuringly. “I’ll check back with you tomorrow. Can I walk you home?”

Cally unwillingly had to decline. “I wish you could, but the sentries that guard the village would see you. I think it’s best for Reisseck to think all is normal so he doesn’t know much we suspect about him.”

“Good idea!” he complimented her. “Can I bring you part of the way home?”

“It’s not far from here,” she regretfully told him.

Derrick looked a little disappointed, but he didn’t manifest it in his voice. “Well then, until tomorrow, my lady!” He half bowed to her.

“Bye Derrick!” Cally found it hard to peel herself away, and Derrick hesitated as well. Eventually, they both forced themselves to and wen their separate ways.

As Cally walked through Dregs Hollow, she noticed that people were staring at her peculiarly as though they didn’t understand her, but, for the first time, she found that she didn’t care about their opinions. Her mind had so much more to think about than their vapid ideas, so she didn’t pay close attention to them. Her thoughts stayed on all of the events that took place until the green skinned woman who was at her house recently blocked her path. “You’re glowing!”

“I am?” Cally checked the skin on her hands to verify this. “Oh, I thought someone put a spell on me!”

The green skinned woman eyed her suspiciously. “Why are you in such a good mood? You’re up to something, aren’t you?”

Cally realized that she had never walked through Dregs Hollow without looking completely miserable, and she made a mental note to keep this in mind in order to maintain her cover. She lied to that woman, “Oh, calm down, Cloris! I got a new book from a customer, so I’m a little excited, that’s all.” Cloris seemed somewhat mollified by this, so Cally continued on her way.

When she got home, she did her best to portray depression for Reisseck. She brushed past Reisseck, who sat in his armchair, kept her head down, and went straight to the dining area to prepare his supper. He put down the newspaper he had been reading and gruffly asked, “How was your day?”

She tersely answered, “It was fine.”

He then cautiously followed with, “Did you have anymore questions about yesterday…?”

“No,” Cally fibbed, “Your explanation made sense.” Reisseck bought it and continued reading his newspaper.

Three more times, Derrick waited for her after work, and twice she had to tell him that she had to work all day. Each time she met with him though, they chit-chatted for quite a bit before they departed. Cally loved having something to look forward to at the end of the day, and for the first time in her life, someone wanted to hear from her and cared about what she had to say, so she savored it. She really began to enjoy Derrick’s company, and she started to grow more and more anxious to spend more time with him for their all day excursion to Bohemma. Finally, Claude shocked her when he told her to take a day off, and she practically skipped to Derrick to tell him, “I don’t work tomorrow!”

“Excellent!” Derrick reacted merrily. “Then I’ll meet you on the path by that lake in the morning!”

“Great!” Cally grinned. They were both excited, but they also felt the weight of the importance of what this journey really meant for themselves and what they could potentially discover about Lacoria’s past…

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